Four Miles to West City Park

With the weather warming up and the rains in the past, summer is blooming in Missouri and so is Heartley. No summer is complete without a trip to the park. But even a simple visit to the park is a prime opportunity for a Canine Companions puppy to review all he’s learned.

First, Cathy puts on the vest with the “dress” command and it’s time to get to work. “Let’s go,” says Cathy, his volunteer puppy raiser, and they head out the door with a wagging tail that tells everyone Heartley is excited to see where they’re headed. Cathy loads him up in the back of the car with the “car” command and in he goes. Their adventure today is taking them just a short four miles to the city of Festus, Missouri to the West City Park which is complete with a playground, lake, ducks, birds and kids.

Commands Come Naturally

Once at the park, Cathy runs through a series of commands as they explore the park: “sit,” “wait,” “don’t,” “hurry” (go potty) and “up” among others. The wobble bridge on the playground is perfect for making sure Heartley is comfortable with odd and uneven surfaces. This one even makes a jingling noise as he walks across. Cathy leads Heartley from the playground to a small pier and then around the lake.


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Ignoring Distractions Is Key

Avoiding and ignoring distractions is key for an assistance dog. As Cathy and Heartley make their way around the lake, Heartley does his best to ignore the squawking ducks in the water, the kids screeching with delight on the swings and the birds chirping and flying about. He keeps his eyes on Cathy to make sure he’s doing exactly what she needs. Good boy!

A simple visit to the park can use nearly all 30 commands Heartley has learned as they navigate leaving the house, traveling by car, exploring all the different areas of a park. This is just another step in preparing him for his destiny as an assistance dog.

To learn more about volunteer puppy raising, click here.

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